Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Magazine Moments

I confess that our homeschool hardly ever resembles the ones in the homeschool magazines. Too often, the kids complain, I'm irritable, we're all just trying to get it over with, and I think I'm pretty much the only one that got anything out of it.

But once in a while, something goes right. Last spring I captured these "snapshots" as encouraging reminders...for such a time as this! They're perfect to enter in Spunky's Capture the Educational Moment contest. (A random winner will receive a digital Canon camera, so enter now if you haven't already!)

Snapshot #1

We had just read, in A Child’s History of the World, a story about King Alfred of England. Separated from his army, he asked a woman in a hut for some food. She offered to milk the cow for him if he would tend the cakes baking on the hearth. Lost in thought, he let them burn. She scolded him and chased him out, never knowing he was the king.

When we finished, Bantam 10.75 began animatedly telling me all about a game he and Bantam 7 had made up. He pretends to be Alexander the Great, going out in disguise among his people, and his brother is someone who, without knowing he is Alexander, shows kindness to him, so Alexander makes him a leader.

Intrigued, I asked, “What other history games do you play?”

“Oh, the Titans, and Caesar...and the Egyptians and Cleopatra, if Caroline is here. Oh, and when we put the sheet up around our bed—y’know, Mom--that’s Odysseus’ boat.”

All that great learning reinforcement going on under my own roof! And I had no idea any of it had stuck.

Snapshot #2

A friend called to thank us for lending him our 15-passenger van for an excursion—he’s an ESL teacher at a nearby high school and he had taken a bunch of underprivileged Hispanic guys to the Chicago Auto Show. (On his own time. What a guy.)

Before he took the van, Bantam 10.75 had helped him get it ready by bagging up trash and personal belongings we’d left in it. Our friend said that he was so surprised at our son—that he had been so helpful and so talkative, asking questions about why he was borrowing the van and where he was going and who he was taking.

“Usually kids that age, you know, you have to ask them all the questions, and then they just give one word answers. Your son was just so cheerful and personable--you could tell he was homeschooled.”

Snapshot #3

Blondechick 13 was engrossed in The Diary of Anne Frank. Bantam 10.75 was reading Famous Legends, his history reader, out loud to Bantam 7. Bitty Bantam was sleeping and Chicklet 3 was pestering me to do school with her. We did a few workbook pages on opposites, and then I remembered some large beads on a plastic lace that I had recently seen in a drawer. As I showed her how to string the beads on the lace, I heard Bantam 10.75 asking Bantam 7, "Now, what happened in that story?" He led him masterfully through a narration of the story--and since narration isn't something we regularly get around to, he wasn't copying me!

Next he asked Bantam 7 to give him a spelling test--again, his own idea. Bantam 7, who had just started reading, had to ask me for pronunciation of one or two words, but did a fine job. Then he spelled them all out loud so Bantam 10.75 could correct his own test. Hearing him, I realized that Bantam 7 had started reading so quickly he didn’t even have all the letter names down cold yet! Great reinforcement--and a big help to me.

Next I began helping Bantam 10.75 with his math, leaving Chicklet 3 alone stringing beads. As she began to struggle, Bantam 7 sat down to help her, and they two of them had a wonderful time while I had an uninterrupted lesson with Bantam 10.75.

Later that evening, I began reading aloud the D’Aulaire’s wonderful biography of Abraham Lincoln to the boys. I thought we’d read it over several nights, but they begged me to keep going. We finished it all in one sitting.

Ordinary moments...

Extraordinary moments!

This is my entry to win a camera in the "Capture the Educational Moment" Contest sponsored by Spunky and Academic Superstore.


maria said...

As if I didn't have reason enough to want to homeschool ... you are such an inspiration! I hope our kids spend their afternoons on Odysseus' ship! Your chicks are so wonderful! We miss you!

At A Hen's Pace said...


We miss you too!!! Maria and her new husband--and their dear doggie that we dogsat one whole summer--just moved to ALASKA, folks! She has the best photos.

RANDI said...

I love that God gives us glimpses of success in the midst of days of lessons. Sometimes I feel the same, that nothing is really getting through to the kids but then He reveals something really neat. My favorite thing lately has been my boys writing stories of the middle ages. They make up names and places, and they usually add a dog to the story, and they write. On their own time. Yes!

denise said...

What beautiful moments!